Measuring School Climate
Research proves that a positive school climate directly impacts telling indicators for success such as higher student achievement, lower dropout rates, decreased incidences of violence, and increased teacher retention.
Measuring school climate is a data driven strategy that recognizes the social, emotional and civic as well as intellectual aspects of K-12 student learning. Measuring school climate is also an effective strategy that engages students, parents/guardians, school personnel and community members learning and working together to create safe, supportive, engaging, helpfully challenging and joyful K-12 schools.
The U.S. Center for Disease Control and Prevention recommends school climate reform as a scientifically sound strategy that promotes healthy relationships, school connectedness and dropout prevention. The Institute of Education Sciences (IES) includes school climate as a strategy for drop out prevention. And, the U.S Department of Education recommends school climate reform as an evidence-based strategy to prevent violence. In fact, the U.S. Department of Education is investing in school climate improvement efforts as a fundamentally important school reform strategy.
What is the CSCI?
The Comprehensive School Climate Inventory (CSCI) is one of the nation’s most scientifically sound and helpful surveys that provide immediate feedback on how students, parents, school personnel and even community members perceive your school's particular climate for learning. Vetted by the National School Climate Council, three independent reviews of school climate measures, a core group of practice and policy leaders, the CSCI is considered to be one of the top school climate surveys in the field. This social, emotional and civic as well as intellectual information provides a foundation for the five-stage school climate improvement process.
The CSCI is the first school climate survey to include a community scale that complements and extends our student, parent/guardian and school personnel scales. This community scale is yoked to student leadership and service learning guidelines. To learn more about the new CSCI community scale, click here.
The CSCI can be used in two major ways: as a needs assessment and as a pre-post measure of change over time.
The CSCI—like all school climate measures—is not an appropriate measurement tool (or “normed measure”) that can be used to compare schools.
NSCC developed the CSCI first and for most to support the whole school community learning and working together to understand your school communities strengths and needs. The CSCI can also be used as a pre-post measure of change over time.
What is the research behind the CSCI?
Developed by the National School Climate Center in 2002, the CSCI has been developed in a scientifically sound manner. For details about how the CSCI has been developed, click here.
The CSCI has been recognized as a scientifically sound assessment tool in four independent evaluations. Renowned by educators, researchers, and experts alike, the CSCI has been selected as one of only three school climate surveys that met the American Psychological Associations criteria for being a reliable and valid tool in a 2010 study of 102 surveys. A recent 2011 independent evaluation by Social Development Research Group (University of Washington) of 72 (i) social emotional learning measures and (ii) school climate surveys for middle schools reported that ten met their criteria for being reliable and valid. The CSCI was one of these ten measures and the only school climate measure that was recommended. And, a recent 2012 review of valid and reliable school climate measures by the American Institute of Research that initially looked at 1000 surveys that could be used to gauge Principal performance. This initial large group of surveys was reduced to about 125 surveys that were studied in much more detail. This brief identified 13 school climate surveys that displayed publicly available evidence of psychometric rigor. The CSCI was one of the 13 surveys recommended. And, out of this group of 13, the CSCI was one of two surveys that recognized student, parent/guardian and school personnel voice.
And, a recent study of the CSCI by researchers at Fordham University confirmed that the CSCI is a scientifically valid tool. The U.S. Department of Education’s Safe and Supportive Schools Technical Assistance Center also recognizes the CSCI as a reliable and valid measurement tool.
To learn more about how you can measure school climate with the Comprehensive School Climate Inventory (CSCI) click here. To learn more about how you can facilitate long-term school climate Improvement click here.